Profile: Bob Croydon: `Wales's Competitors Are Now Europe's Capitals'
Byline: ROBERT LLEWELLYN-JONES
The National Spatial Planning Framework for Wales could be called the Welsh Doomsday Book.
Had he been born in the 11th Century, Bob Croydon, head of the Cardiff office of international property consultants King Sturge, would have been one of those appointed by William the Conqueror to compile his spatial record of England between 1085 and 1086.
Like those vassals of William, Croydon has the aptitude and enthusiasm necessary for such an undertaking.
``The plan distills the broad sweep of Assembly policy, including health, education, transport, environment and other overarching considerations such as sustainable development and social inclusion,'' Bob Croydon explained.
``It illustrates the impact of these policies on land use in Wales.''
The plan is the first of its kind to be conducted in the UK.
As to its worth, Croydon believes that a good plan will be beneficial to Wales - but it has to take into account market forces governing the industrial property market.
``If it fails to take account of these factors then the concerns are that it may deter people from investing in Wales,'' he said.
He believes that what investors in the property sector want to see is a resolution of the obvious tension that exists between the current international trend towards a faster growth of urban economies as opposed to the rural economies.
Recent research, he explains, shows that cities rather than regions are competing for investment and development capital.
Within a UK context this has been recognised by the Government and the Chancellor in diverting greater resources to infrastructure in the South East to ensure that London and the South East remain internationally competitive.
``In Wales we are seeing a mood developing in certain sections of the Assembly that suggests that the business of regeneration has been completed in Cardiff and that resources may now be diverted elsewhere,'' he said.
``This needs to be taken into account because those who invest in Wales must have a clear a picture of overarching policy.''
Such a subject may be deemed reading matter for academics and students of policy.
Not so, argues Croydon. It effects the way everything and everyone lives in Wales because it deals with environmental management.
``Many of our national assets are our natural assets,'' he said.
``So the way we address the future of the National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the demands placed on these - not just by industry but by leisure and tourism - impacts on the nation as a whole.''
Reverting to an historical analogy, he says that the past has been one of military domination and commercial exploitation.
Wealth has been extracted from Wales but that wealth has not been retained.
Evidence for this is found in the decline of the mining and steel industries. Now the malaise has spread to more recent industries like the petro-chemical and electronics sectors.
``The decline in heavy engineering and manufacturing over the last decade has been masked by the success of organisations like the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) in attracting new industry to Wales,'' he said.
This, he believes, has now been proved to be transitory and is seen by some as an extension of that exploitative tendency.
He said, ``The real added value is taken elsewhere but this has now been addressed by the National Assembly leadership.''
The remedy is to develop self-sufficiency allied to sustainability that applies to economic development as much as it applies to the nation's natural resources. …